Research in our lab seeks to bring the power of modern synthetic organic chemistry to bear on problems in biology and medicine. The main focus of our research involves synthesis of organic compounds that are biologically interesting. This is followed by mode of action studies to gain insights to the biological functions of these natural products and the molecular basis of the biological processes involved. We are interested in:
Natural product total synthesis: The complexity and structure diversity of natural products have been major inspirations for innovations since the dawn of organic chemistry. Natural products are also invaluable as tools for biological investigations and as platforms for drug developments. Our interest in natural product total synthesis follows these two historic lines. Firstly, we are interested in using natural product total synthesis as the tool to test the limits of contemporary organic synthesis and as a source of inspiration for developing innovative synthetic methods/strategies to move beyond these boundaries. The synthesis also provides access to bioactive natural products, thus enables detailed mechanistic studies of their biological functions and provides opportunities for biological discoveries.
Synthetic methodologies: The synthesis of complex natural products requires efficient chemical transformations. To this end, our lab is interested in the design and development of enantioselective organocatalytic reactions, transition metal-mediated transformations, and domino processes for rapid assembly of complex molecules.
Identification of small molecule probes for biological studies: Selective modulation of biological systems by small molecules has become a powerful method for biological studies. It complements genetic analysis by allowing access to biological space that is not accessible before. In this research area, our lab is interested in identifying small molecule regulators of important biological processes by high-throughput screening and rational design. These small molecules will be used as probes to help to define the molecular basis of biological processes.